Saturday, January 25, 2014

jacana reserve

Activities in the Jacana Reserve the last few weeks have been a little disturbing. It's probably a minor thing but I'm still concerned: the removal of the fence that separated firstly the Jacana Reserve from the property owned by the Sports Club (both areas were completely open otherwise) and the removal of the fence that separated the Reserve from Moonee Ponds Creek. Sure, sure, no reason to fear this change per se (except that it makes it even easier for trailbike riders to burl through wherever/whenever) but it does seem odd - a year ago the area was OVERfenced (around where the Western Ring Road upgrade was going on) now it's an unmitigated plain. 

Then there's the burning business. Firstly, a new patch of burnt grass area by the creek - this has happened sometime in the last two days. 

And seems somehow connected to the car body which sat in the creek for a month before being towed out, to a spot about 250m away, and set on fire. But I'm pretty sure that the patch by the creek is newly burnt, not directly connected to the burning of the car. 

This booklet was in the grass and I think somehow had been in the car (before it was burnt, obviously).
Broken glass from the route the car took between the creek and its burning place.
Where the car had been previously, for about a month.
Shortly after this we saw a red bellied black snake just hanging by the creek edge (thought it was a bike tire, then thought it was dead, then it started moving). This was the first time I've seen a snake in the park though Mia has seen them before. Freaked me out. Luckily the dogs were sufficiently attuned to my fright to take notice and steer clear. It's funny also what seeing a snake will do to your brain. For instance, about twenty minutes later I saw a gumleaf twist in the wind and that part of my brain was activated that warned me about snakes.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

glutton for punishment

A second trip to the Palace cinemas at Balwyn. I know, why? But then… why not. Inside Llewyn Davis was on there and I really wanted to see it. The heatwave is over, but the inside of buildings are still disgustingly overheated. I wanted to take the Brompton somewhere new it hadn’t seen before and hear some interesting tales from my early life, as well as some important transport history which doubles as economic or social or urban or just plain history.

Balwyn is on the old Outer Circle Railway, much of which (the bits they couldn't do anything else with) has been turned into park/ bike path. You can find out heaps more about the Outer Circle really easily than I can tell you here or frankly than I want to be bothered telling you. Suffice it to say it was a huge white elephant of a railway line that was built in the early 1890s and it ran for a couple of years with very few passengers.

This is the old APM building. There used to be a tiny bit of railway line that was kept to service the paper mill here but it is gone now. That building is a modernist masterpiece btw.

This is the Kew Fire Station or perhaps the East Kew Fire Station, I was once walked home from school by a girl who lived here (I guess her father was a fireman). Long story. I think I just told it then though.
This is where the railway line hit Harp Road Kew. Now strangely what must once have been a railway bridge is now just a cutting with a wall across it, and it has been uselessly thus for the last hundred and twenty five years presumably. 
  The Dunning timber yard was here for a long time and this is its last little relic, the old briquette dispensary. My family lived in Kew from when I was two to when I was seven and I do remember coming up to this little building in the early 1970s with my father to buy briquettes from the machine.
 If you squint you can see Bernie Briquette under the paint and rust.

 When you get bored you can always enjoy the bike path hieroglyphs

The Palace at Balwyn by the way was being run by two teenagers who got the job that day. Inside Llewyn Davis was in Cinema 5 and when I finally got up there (after being kept in two queues for too long) everyone was waiting to go in because this sign was out the front:
After a while it became clear that in fact there was no cleaning going on and that the pre-movie ads were starting so we all went in and the funny thing was the cinema was actually filthy with bottles, napkins and other rubbish everywhere.

The film was great but that's a given. Brompton didn't mind waiting outside because it had had such an exciting trip there, and the trip back to look forward to.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

not really a review - the secret life of walter mitty

As Melbournites will know we are in the midst of (hopefully actually exactly half way through) a heatwave, and it has been very tough going, so this evening I went to the Palace Cinemas in Balwyn to see American Hustle, even though the Palace Cinemas website had the strangest blurb:

A fictional film set in the alluring world of one of the most stunning scandals to rock our nation,AMERICAN HUSTLE tells the story of brilliant con man Irving Rosenfeld...

If I need to point out why that is freaky, well, first of all, the obvious one: 'Our nation?' Really? I haven't actually seen the film but I get the sense at least from the title it's set in America, and while we might have enormous affection for it here, I don't think we're quite ready to call 'America' (NB not a nation, but forget that) 'ours'. Secondly, 'the alluring world of one of the most stunning scandals'... what could that mean? A harder one to pin down for stupidity, true, but still probz pinnable. (And another thing... 'a fictional film'? But the scandal rocked 'our nation', didn't it?)


I wouldn't blame American Hustle for having something stupid written about it, but I am not sure I want to give Palace Cinemas my money, considering how little attention they pay to their website. I mean that ridiculous thing about the Westgarth Cinema being 'inspired' by Walter Burley Griffin - if that building was inspired by WBG, then it's time to rewrite the entire history of art nouveau. But I digress.

Alright, so the Palace website was coy about whether American Hustle was on at Palace Balwyn or not. It sort of was, when you looked at it one way, and then wasn't when you looked at it another. I decided that on balance it probably wasn't, but on the other hand, it could be. But if it wasn't, there was another film - The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - and the ads for that looked pretty OK as a film you'd go and see on the big screen when you were going to the movies primarily to get into an air-conditioned environment. 

I had half an hour before the film started when I got there and I had kind of hoped to have some dinner but nuh-uh, there was nothing open in Whitehorse Road apart from the chip shop so I just went to Woolworths and got some fancy juice, which was fine. And then I went to the cinema and sure enough no American Hustle. What is this, some kind of conspiracy to deprive me of Australian history? I made a comment to the box office/candy bar/wine 'n' coffee milkshake bar guy about the website mixed-messages and he laughed like, he couldn't give a loose root and why would he. He was charging me an arm and a leg to see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and it wasn't even like it made any difference to him monetarily whether I saw it, or anything, or not.

OK. Once in the cinema, there was an ad for Honda with a pair of hands shaping all these Honda vehicles real and imagined. It was one of the most incredibly long and dull things I had ever experienced, and I've seen some things. There was a quite good ad for not drinking and driving though (it was young people dressed up as Wizard of Oz characters; I particularly liked the incredibly stilted line delivery of the 'wizard' taxi driver). Then there was the film.

The film was actually pretty great. It's so nice to have no expectations (except that there'd be some visceral thrills) and it has that, so, amazing scenery and some mindbending concepts like that you could take a helicopter from Greenland to a boat that's just a few hours sail from Iceland... well, I guess I don't know for sure about that, but I bet it's not possible. But along with that, it is a sweet, trippy kind of lightly humorous film that I found really engaging. Looked great, almost every scene. And the scene with Ben Stiller and Sean Penn is really funny; and Kristen Wiig is really good in almost anything; and, well, even though I was confused about what hipster beards & then (in the later scenes) beards that aren't hipster but which you get because you just haven't had a way to shave because you've been in Afghanistan/detention are supposed to mean, nevertheless I enjoyed the bearded corporate hipster douches too. I loved the Greenland and Iceland scenes (all of which, I suspect, were filmed in Iceland - possibly even the Afghanistan scenes too because Afghanistan wasn't listed as a location at the end any more than Greenland was). 

So ultimately, I think I would recommend this film as a very entertaining way to stay out of muggy, oppressive heat, and it does have some humorous moments and it also has some spectacular moments, and some decent music, and as far as I can tell the most tenuous link to the real Secret Life of Walter Mitty that it was barely even worth calling it that, but maybe I should reread that story, and be surprised. 

The Patton Oswald scene was really good too. 

Friday, January 03, 2014

my 'graphics' file # 1

I don't know why I have a 'graphics' file in my filing cabinet but I do (or did - I'm throwing this stuff out after I scan it). I wish, in a way, though in another way I don't care, that in compiling the 'graphics' file I had written a note to myself 'Dear Self, the reason your past self is compiling this material is that...' but I didn't. I remember all of these things, though, which are images I've come across while doing other research which attracted me in some way or another. I knew I'd never see them again if I didn't retain them somehow so,  you know, I retained them somehow. I guess that in fact I'm continuing to retain them, and foist them on you too. 

Above is from Sydney Morning Herald, 1 September 1930 p. 8

I don't know where the above is from, but I made about seven copies of the image trying to get a good reproduction of it - clearly because I wanted a good shot of 'Johnson'. I don't know. I just don't know.